Contact us: Center for Asian Studies
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The Silk Road: Geocultural & Geostrategic Futures. China’s Belt and Road Initiative is emerging as a vast platform of heritage diplomacy. It challenges us to develop new ways of thinking about diplomacy and great power competition, and how culture and history are used for political gain in the twenty-first Century. As multiple players invest in the idea of “reviving” the Silk Roads, we are seeing new forms of cultural globalization and strategic ties form across Eurasia and Africa.
AGORA: The age of infrastructure: China as a global urban agent, funded by the University of Manchester Research Institute, seeks to explore how Chinese infrastructural investment reconfigures relations between cities, regions and nation states.
Highland Asia: Remoteness & Connectivity: Highland Asia in the World is a five-year research project (2015-2020) funded by the European Research Council. It is carried out by a team of researchers based at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany.
Crossroads Asia: Crossroads Studies brings together theoretical and methodological considerations and experiences from the six years existence of the Crossroads Asia project. The courses and teaching materials build in large part on the insights from the more than 20 working packages and provide novel ideas as to how to conduct Area Studies in the 21st century.
Reconnecting Asia: Reconnecting Asia maps new linkages—roads, railways, and other infrastructure—that are reshaping economic and geopolitical realities across the continent. Through data curation and objective analysis, the project aims to fill Asia’s infrastructure-information gap, squaring lofty ambitions with facts on the ground. Our methodology explains the science and art behind these efforts.
Following The Wires: The project follows the wires that crisscross the skyline and buildings of Beirut and uses the responses to electricity disruption to make sense of the legacy of the conflicts that have affected Beirut.This work builds on innovative approaches from film practice, ethnography and sociology, to show how discrepancies in access to energy can be used to articulate the lasting impact of conflicts on everyday lives and the urban environment. The project will produce a documentary film to articulate the everyday experiences of people living with power outages in the Lebanese capital, paying close attention to how informal electricity networks redesign the urban landscape.
Making Modernity in East Asia: The main objective of Making Modernity in East Asia is to establish a new, interdisciplinary way of understanding East Asian modernity through the lens of everyday technology. Our focus on everyday technologies – the ordinary, unglamorous and widespread technologies used in our everyday life – shifts the emphasis from old, exhausted questions on “who invented what first”, or “technological failure, imitation or catching up”, to how technology was and is put to use in East Asia. The research team’s ambition is to build a sustainable platform to synergies research on this topic that has never been treated systematically, and to create in four years an Area of Excellence which will make Hong Kong the world research center for the study of technology and East Asian society. The project is affiliated with Hong Kong University.
Borders, Mobilities and New Infrastructures: Supported by the Max Weber Foundation the Research Group on Borders, Mobility and New Infrastructures was established in FASS in June 2017 at National University of Singapore. Our foci are changing cross-border infrastructures, borderscapes, and new scales and spaces of interaction. We are particularly interested in Japan’s multi-faceted role in Southeast Asia.
Roads and the Politics of Thought: ‘Roads’ is a five year ethnographic research project on infrastructure development in South Asia. The project, funded by the European Research Council, will provide the first ethnographic account of the culture of ‘road builders’, their knowledge practices, interrelations and motivations. ‘Roads’ is headed by Edward Simpson, Professor in Social Anthropology at SOAS, University of London. Simpson will work with research partners at the University of Edinburgh, and an award-winning collective of contemporary artists, CAMP, who are based in Mumbai, India.
Infrastructures of Democracy: Infrastructures of Democracy is the website for a research project entitled Infrastructures of Democracy: State Building as Everyday Practice in Nepal’s Agrarian Districts, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The project is comprised of several nested scales of collaboration. Core research teams are based at the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia (co-PIs and affiliated doctoral students) and at the Martin Chautari Research and Policy Institute in Kathmandu, Nepal (Research Fellow and Tribhuvan University doctoral students). Two peer researchers participate from three district-scale research sites in Nepal. A group of prominent scholars and policy makers in Canada and Nepal serve as collaborators to the research in an advisory capacity.
Road Work Asia: ‘ROADWORK: An Anthropology of Infrastructure at China’s Inner Asian Borders’ is a four-year research project (2018-2022) funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and based at the Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies at the University of Zurich. The project team will conduct ethnographic fieldwork along roads that have been designated as key links at the Sino-Inner Asian interface of the China-initiated Silk Road Economic Belt. Archival research and GIS analysis, two further research methods employed by the team, will help to identify social relations and temporalities that are difficult to capture through ethnography, but which nonetheless powerfully affect roads and travel in this region of Asia. The conceptual aim of the project is to propose a novel framework to theorize the social life of roads through a dialogue with the concepts of place and time, and to bring decay and maintenance to the centre of anthropological enquiry.
Technology ‘s Stories: Technology’s Stories is published by The Society for the History of Technology (SHOT). We engage readers with the usable past—stories that help us make sense of contemporary technological challenges and aspirations. Technology’s Stories is a place for thinkers to share new insights on the integration of technology with our environments and our social, political, and economic lives.
The New Silk Road: The International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) has recently started a new project of interdisciplinary research aimed at the study of the Belt and Road Initiative of the Chinese government, with special attention to the impact of the ‘New Silk Road’ on countries, regions and peoples outside of China. The project will be in line with the IIAS inclusive, experimental approach to Asian Studies, seeking cooperation not only with international partners from the Social Sciences and Humanities but also with practitioners on the ground (municipalities, local stakeholders, NGO’s, artists and cultural actors, community organisations, businesses, trade unions, etc.). The programme moreover plans to establish formal links with research institutes in China to encourage the widest exchange of information and opinions.